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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Filigreed Key

The wind blew sand over my eyelids as I slept, tickling me gently and rousing me from my slumber. Before I could think twice, I opened my eyes and let a dusting of fine grains seek the crevices beneath my lids. My hands raced to my face, my voice suddenly a hoarse cry. As suddenly as it had started, the irritation was gone, slight traces of tears meandering down my cheeks through my week-old whiskers and my vision returned.

OK, I probably wasn't sleeping in THIS canyon...
The sun was still rising, a pale glimmer above the canyon wall. It was time to wake. It was time to drink from the cold stream, while the water was still fresh and before the sun withered it into dust. It was time to check the traps for a fresh hare, and to check my boots for scorpions; either would keep me alive for another day. Either would get me a step closer to the filigreed key.

The stream was chilled but full of silt. My teeth crunched through the grit when I had taken my fill and weighted my skins. My traps were empty, as were my boots. I still had a few bites of jerky to get me through the day, but then I would be on my own. I wouldn’t miss the taste of the old salted beef when I’d seen its yesterday; I definitely wouldn’t miss the way its fine strands managed to become lodged in my teeth for days at a time. I wouldn’t miss the way my mouth became dry and desert as the ground I’d slept on the night before. I would miss the cow, though.